No Fatalities Among U.S. Scheduled Flights in Three of Four Years, Air France Search Turns Up FDR

 - May 2, 2011, 5:48 AM
Search teams found the FDR memory unit from the Air France A330 that crashed into the South Atlantic in June 2009. (Photo: BEA)

U.S. scheduled airlines have gone three years out of four without suffering a fatal accident, the last coming in February 2009, when the crash of a Colgan Air Bombardier Q400 outside Buffalo killed 50. Preliminary statistics released by the NTSB on April 20 show that scheduled Part 121 airlines recorded 26 accidents last year all told. Part 135 commuters experienced six accidents in 2010, none of which proved fatal.

Of the three non-scheduled Part 121 accidents last year, one–the September crash of a UPS Boeing 747-400 shortly after takeoff from Dubai International Airport–involved fatalities. Both pilots died in that crash.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the far deadlier June 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447 in the South Atlantic took a disappointing turn last week, when after locating the chassis of the flight data recorder from the A330-200 on the sea bottom, investigators found the device's crash survivable memory unit missing.

However, the French BEA (Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses) continued its search over the weekend, and yesterday found the component in the nearby debris field. The agency plans this week to transport the unit to Paris for analysis.

All 228 passengers and crew on flight died when the airplane crashed into the ocean during a violent storm.